Wild Flowers on Saddle Mountain
- 5.2 miles round trip
- 1620 feet elevation gain
Highest point in northwest Oregon, this saddle-shaped peak commands a panorama from the ocean to the truncated cone of Mt. St. Helens. The climb is especially popular in May and June, when wildflowers fill the mountain’s meadows with the richest floral display in the entire Coast Range. Avoid the steep path after mid-winter ice storms.
The Columbia River basalt forming Saddle Mountain erupted 15 million years ago near Idaho, poured down the Columbia’s channel, and fanned out to the sea. Here the lava puddled up in a deep bay. When the Coast Range later rose, erosion stripped away the surrounding soft rock, turning the erstwhile bay into a mountain. The summit still has a lumpy, pillow-shaped surface typical of lava cooled quickly by water.
Start by driving Highway . . .
Another half mile’s climb brings you to the wildflower meadows on the peak’s upper slopes. Several rare flower species, including Saddle Mountain bittercress (a pink, 4-petaled mustard) are found almost exclusively here. This unglaciated summit served as a refuge for alpine species in the Ice Age, when the Cascade Range was buried in ice. Blooms you’re likely to spot include red paintbrush, blue iris, purple larkspur, and cushions of bluish phlox. Flower picking is prohibited.
. . .
This chapter taken from the book 100 Hikes/Travel Guide: Oregon Coast & Coast Range.